Photo via: Raising Men Lawn Care Services
After a chance encounter with an elderly man cutting his lawn one day, then Alabama A&M college student Rodney Smith Jr. became inspired to create a free lawn care service that turned into a nation-wide community service initiative. Smith also personally challenged himself to travel to all 50 states to mow lawns for the elderly, veterans, disable and single mothers.
Smith founded Raising Men Lawn Care Service (RMLCS), based in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2016. In addition to providing free lawn care and maintenance, RMLCS also began to mentor youth, teaching them about the importance of community service and practical skills associated with lawn care and lawn mower safety.
The “50 Yard Challenge” quickly became the signature effort of RMLCS. Children across the U.S. are challenged to mow 50 yards for free in their respective communities. To get new challenge participants started, RMLCS provides each of them with a white RMLCS t-shirt, shades, and ear protection. For every 10 yards that they cut, they are then rewarded with a different color t-shirt. Once they have completed the challenge and mowed 50 yards, Smith or another member of RMLCS will personally visit the participant to provide them with a new lawn mower and also mow a few yards alongside them in celebration of their accomplishment.
(Swipe left to see all) Family, Please help me welcome Malik from Katy,TX, Marcus from Tupelo,MS, Gian and Mia from Vero Beach, FL , Aiden from Springfield, OH and Matthew from Jacksonville, FL to the Raising Men Lawn Care Service Family. They have all stepped up and accepted the 50 yard challenge. Thank you all for wanting to make a difference in your community! Your white shirts will be send out to you along with your shades and ear protection .advertisement
Smith shared with The Huffington Post, “Since this challenge started in 2016, 12 kids have already completed the challenge…both boys and girls are part of it and we currently have 130 kids nationwide taking part in this challenge, including 7 in Bermuda and the U.K. and one in Canada. So it’s spreading worldwide.”
The governor of Smith’s home country of Bermuda has also acknowledged his efforts by presenting him with an award in 2017 on behalf of the Queen of England. It was also during 2017 when Smith embarked on a personal challenge with his “50 States 50 Lawns” campaign. He began his travel to all 50 states to provide free lawn services in May 2017 and as of last month, he has gone back out on the road to do it all over again.
“After I finish 50 States 50 Lawns this summer, I’ll be starting to plan out 7 Continents 7 Lawns,” Smith said. “I plan to, next summer, travel to all seven continents.”
Smith said of his organization: “I believe today He gave me what my purpose is, and that’s giving back to the community. Raising men was all a part of His vision.”
RMLCS has received support from Briggs & Stratton, a Milwaukee-based lawn mower engine company, since the founding of the nonprofit organization. “His efforts are an embodiment of our company values around empowering people, making work easier and improving lives with outdoor power equipment, and we are excited to see his movement expanding into year two,” shared Briggs & Stratton spokeswoman, Lauren Vagnini.
Follow Rodney (@iamrodneysmith) to keep up with the continued growth and impact of RMLCS.